As a renowned session and touring drummer, instructor and clinician, drummer Ray Luzier has enjoyed an almost storybook-like career. Playing drums since age seven, Ray grew up on a farm in rural Pennsylvania. After high school, he left home for Los Angeles – with visions of rock stardom in his eyes – to study drums and percussion at LA’s Musicians Institute. Later, Ray paid the bills teaching the hard rock curriculum at MI’s Percussion Institute of Technology. He also realized a childhood dream by playing drums on a dozen albums for the famed Shrapnel Records label. In 1998, Ray’s determination and amazing ability to network landed him behind the drum kit for the David Lee Roth band, a gig he held down for over seven years. The drummer toured the world with Roth while recording and performing with a variety of projects, including the Nixons, ‘80s metal cover band and comedy routine, Metal Shop and his own instrumental group, Hideous Sun Demons.
In 2005, Ray got the break he’d been working towards his entire career when he was asked by brothers Dean and Robert Deleo (ex-Stone Temple Pilots) to join the hard rock supergroup, Army of Anyone – which includes singer Richard Patrick, formerly of Filter. Featuring a sound that mixes Led Zeppelin and Motown with modern industrial rock, Army of Anyone’s highly anticipated, self-titled debut was released this summer amid the biggest music industry buzz since Velvet Revolver hit the scene. Ray talked drums with Metal Edge the night before Army of Anyone took off for a tour of Japan. (Note: Although Korn is Ray’s current gig, this interview was conducted years prior to to him doing that band).
Metal Edge: What players have most influenced your double bass technique, and how do you keep your drumming fresh?
Ray Luzier: My double bass playing is mostly influenced by Terry Bozzio and Deen Castronovo, but Scott Travis from Judas Priest also has a great double bass technique. He’s so amazing and clean. For a long time now, I’ve wanted to be more than just a drummer. I picked up the guitar about seven years ago and it’s allowed me to see a new perspective coming from the guitar player. When I was really young, I couldn’t understand why the producer would say, ‘You shouldn’t play that drum fill’ or ‘that kick drum pattern doesn’t really go with the guitar part.’ Playing guitar has allowed me to see that you can step on the guitar riff if you play a busy drum fill over the top. It’s brought new life to my playing.
Metal Edge: In the David Lee Roth Band you played many of his biggest hits with Van Halen. What was it like playing Alex Van Halen’s classic drum parts?
Ray Luzier: There are signature parts, drum wise, in songs like “Jump” or “Dance the Night Away” – which were huge hits. After the keyboard intro at the beginning of “Jump,” you have that simple fill that everybody air jams to. If you miss that fill you should be knocked off your drum throne (laughs)! There were certain things that I’d emulate from Alex but Dave really let me be myself. Through the years, the songs definitely evolved. I’ve watched live videos of us and it sounds like this new band with Dave, yet we’re complimenting the old stuff while bringing ourselves into the mix as well.
Metal Edge: Army of Anyone is your first experience as a full member of a band and not just a “Hired Gun.” How did you approach your drumming on this record?
Ray Luzier: When I got this gig there were twenty-six songs already written to a drum machine, so I had to really think creatively. Robert and the guys really showed me – beyond the vocal melody – how to think of everyone’s part as a hook. Instead of thinking, ‘what drum part is going to sound good with this?’ I had to ask myself, ‘what’s my hook right here?’ Usually, the bass player wants the drummer to lock in, so the bass drum is right with the bass line. Robert’s not like that. He’d say, ‘Play around me. Find what works for you.’ So it’s like we have four different parts going on with guitar, bass, drums and vocals, but it all seems to work. I’m definitely playing differently these days.
Metal Edge: What were some of the highlights of being in the studio recording the Army of Anyone album?
Ray Luzier: Being in the studio with (producer) Bob Ezrin was a great experience. One of the reasons I started playing drums was because of Destroyer, the KISS album that Bob produced. Just watching the way Dean and Robert work – with the magic of the way they layer guitar tracks, and the way Richard would sing certain parts – was amazing. Dean might suggest that I play a certain fill or someone would say ‘Play one of those crazy things you do right at the end.’ Then I’d play it and they would all just smile and say, ‘That’s it!’ This is definitely some of the best work I’ve ever done and it’s a record that I’m very proud of.
Drums: Orange County Drums & Percussion
Sizes: 22×22″ Kick Drum, 8X10″ and 9X12″ rack toms, 14″ and 16″ Floor toms, 5 1/2″ X 14″ steel/wood snare
Sticks: Pro-Mark 5B Hickory wood tip Ray Luzier signature sticks
Official Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Army-of-Anyone-215998051773832/
Official Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RayLuzierOfficial/
Photo By Tina Korhonen
This article was originally written for Metal Edge Magazine as part of a monthly column by Gail Worley (under the pen name Jayne Rollins). With the magazines’ dissolution, the article has been added to the content base of The Worley Gig for our readers’ enjoyment.